Diamond Bank, TruContact clash over CSR pitch

Diamond Bank Nigeria Plc and TruContact are at loggerheads over the bank’s CSR pitch contract which the agency claimed it won. While the agency laid claims to irregularities in the award of the CSR account, the bank said the decision not to award the job to the agency was based on its refusal to sign the bank’s Service Level Agreement, SLA and Non-Disclosure Agreement, NDA, which were embedded in the contract. ADEDEJI ADEMIGBUJI reports.

The ad pitch held by Diamond Bank Nigeria Plc on January 31, 2013 to drive its Corporate Social Responsibility, CSR agenda through a competent agency in the growing industry has been concluded with a clear winner, going by available information.

However, an agency that apparently lost the pitch is claiming that it won and is making a claim on the bank. National Mirror findings revealed that Diamond Bank had invited three local agencies-TruContact which is affiliated to Incite Sustainability, South Africa; ThistlePraxis Consulting and Kasher Consulting as well as two international firms on January 15 to pitch for the 12 months CSR/ sustainability management service, an initiative designed by the bank to create its CSR/sustainability roadmap and sustainability performance management system with recommendation on structure, reporting, NSBP compliance and way forward, ahead of the domestication of the NIS: ISO 26000 for CSR practice in Nigeria.

According to reports, at the keenly contested pitch for the lucrative business, which took place at the bank’s head office, TruContact was said to have been adjudged the winner of the business. As a result, it was gathered that Diamond Bank through a letter signed on February 4, 2013 by both Ayona Aguele-Trimnell, Head, Corporate Communications and Titilola Aikulola of Corporate Communications, had notified TruContact that the management was satisfied with its performance at the pitch presentation hence, its decision to engage TruContact services as CSR consultants for the bank for a period of 12 months covering February 2013 to February 2014.

“We are pleased to inform you of our management’s decision to engage the services of TruContact as CSR consultants for the bank for a period of 12 months covering February 2013 to February 2014,” the letter stated.

“Should you accept our offer, please note that a Service Level Agreement (SLA) and Non-disclosure Agreement (NDA), guiding this contract will be made available by our legal department for execution by your goodselves.”

However, it was learnt that on February 28, the bank sent another letter to TruContact and signed again by Aguele-Trimnell and Aikulola, where it was commended for participating in the pitch process but expressed regret at the agency’s inability to emerge winner.

In the February 28, 2013 letter to Tru- Contact, seen by National Mirror, the bank said: “We thank you for honouring our invitation to pitch creative ideas in response to our brief. Although your participation contributed immensely to the quality and competitiveness of the entire exercise, we regret to inform you that we will not be selecting your agency at this time.”

The twist, according to checks, led Tru- Contact to respond to Diamond Bank’s February 4 letter of appointment, where it categorically stated, “We hereby acknowledge receipt of your dated February 7, 2013 with reference No. CC/A1/AAT/265/02/2013 in which you so kindly offered to engage our services and so doing, the services of our sister agency, Incite Sustainability, South Africa. Together, we offer you, our client, a rare combination of local and international knowledge, support and expertise in CSR and sustainability.”

The, CEO of TruContact, Mr. Ken Egbas, who was not ready to comment extensively on the matter, stated that Diamond Bank knows that TruContact was appointed to handle the brief and the appointment was unlawfully terminated without reason(s).

As a result, National Mirror learnt that TruContact through its legal counsel, Afri- Juris Lawyers on June 11, 2013 is demanding compensation for unlawful and irregular termination of appointment.

Reacting to the story, Diamond Bank Media Relations Officer, Mr. Adebowale Aderibigbe-Banzi told National Mirror that the bank halted the earlier plan because TruContact failed to accede to the bank’s service level agreement and nondisclosure agreement on the contract.

“While TruContact was invited and did win the CSR pitch, they refused to accede to the Bank’s Service Level Agreement (SLA) and Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) on the contract,” he stated.

As a result, the bank said the engagement with TruContact was not consummated as they refused to agree to the terms spelt out in the NDA and SLA. “Consequently, TruContact was never presented any letter of appointment by Diamond Bank.

As a responsible entity, Diamond Bank Plc requires that its vendors sign SLAs and NDAs before they are presented with a letter of engagement and in this case this was not done. This further reiterates the bank’s position that TruContact was never engaged,” said the bank. Meanwhile, TruContact, according to National Mirror findings, said it incurred cost by flying in its South African partners, hence, pressing for compensation; a situation an industry expert said, “unearthed the issue of pitch fee that would have ordinarily taken care of some of the expenses.”

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